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Town Board approves $20K salary increase for highway superintendent

The Riverhead Town Board formally voted Thursday to approve a $20,000 salary increase for Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson in exchange for his acting as the department head for the municipal garage.

Mr. Woodson had been appointed to the position earlier in 2018 after it had been vacant for several years.

The vote was 3-1, with Councilman Jim Wooten opposed and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio absent.

The salary increase, from $94,803 to $114,803, applies only for the 2019 fiscal year.

The increase is subject to a permissive referendum, which means that a petition with a certain number of signatures opposing the change, if submitted within 45 days of Thursday’s vote, will force a public vote.

Mr. Woodson was first given the responsibility to oversee the municipal garage, along with a pro-rated $20,000 per year raise, in April 2018.

But at a work session in November, Councilman Tim Hubbard told the board that Police Chief David Hegermiller said his department would oversee the municipal garage for no additional compensation.

The idea appeared to have the support of the board majority, although no official vote had been taken.

But by December, Mr. Hubbard had changed his mind after meeting with Mr. Woodson, police officials and others, and the board majority now favored sticking with Mr. Woodson to oversee the garage.

“Sometimes a good idea on paper is not always a good idea in reality,” he said at Thursday’s Town Board meeting.

Chrissy Curtis, the wife of head mechanic Mike Curtis, said Mr. Woodson had met with her husband on a Saturday afternoon after getting the garage appointment to go over everything that needed to be done in the garage.

Mr. Wooten said he opposed the measure because he doesn’t think an elected official, such as Mr. Woodson, should be made a department head in another department.

Mr. Woodson was not present at the Town Board meeting.

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